Firsts

Many firsts this week. This past Sunday (August 12) was the Parish Choir’s first Sunday back after its well-earned summer hiatus. We hit the liturgy running with a cracker-jack brass quartet joining us for the Vaughan Williams “The Old 100th Psalm Tune” and some festive season hymn settings for Rally Day. Organist Dr. Gamble completed the “Old Hundredth” theme by playing the John Knowles Paine “Variations on Old Hundred” for the closing voluntary.

The day we celebrate as the start-up of our program year, and in keeping with this year’s construction and renovations, Rally Day had a fun construction theme: The after-church reception table had a lovely orange traffic cone centerpiece, and the entire parish staff donned construction worker vests. (see photo below)

The Parish Choir’s first rehearsal for the choir season was Wednesday evening (August 15) in the nave balcony, our substitute choir room for the season, preceded by the first rehearsals of the St. Cecilia Choir (Sr. kindergarten. & 1st gr.) and the Holy Communion Choristers (gr. 2-6). Temporarily relocated from the Children’s Choir Room for renovations, these choirs will rehearse in the Children’s Chapel.

We had rehearsal last evening without a needed printed Psalm, the copies of which were lying on the choirmaster’s cubicle in our temporary parish offices across the street. Music not where we need it: another first, probably the first of many for this choir season.

Another first for the 10:30 liturgy this Sunday morning (Aug. 19), at least for Church of the Holy Communion, is the canticle, A Song of Wisdom.

In 1997 Enriching Our Worship, a supplemental liturgical volume to The Book of Common Prayer, was published. This resource contains a number of new canticles within the Morning and Evening Prayer rites.

As the canticles in our present Prayer Book are numbered (Canticle 1 Benedicite omnia opera Domini, Canticle 2 Benedictus es Domine, Canticle 3 Magnificat, etc.), these new canticles were all assigned letter-names:

Canticle A: A Song of Wisdom (Wisdom 10:15-19,20b-21)
Canticle B: A Song of Pilgrimage (Ecclesiasticus 51:13-16,20b-22)
Canticle C: The Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-8);
Canticle D: A Song of the Wilderness (Isaiah 35:1-7,10)
Canticle E: A Song of Jerusalem Our Mother (Isaiah 66:10-14)
Canticle F: A Song of Lamentation (Lamentations 1:12, 16; 3:19, 22-24, 26)
Canticle G: A Song of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36:24-28)
Canticle H: A Song of Hosea (Hosea 6:1-3)
Canticle I: A Song of Jonah (Jonah 2:2-7, 9)
Canticle J: A Song of Judith (Judith 16:13-16)
Canticle K: A Song of Our Adoption (Ephesians 1:3-10)
Canticle L: A Song of Christ’s Humility (Philippians 2:6-11)
Canticle M: A Song of Faith (1 Peter 1:3-4, 18-21)
Canticle N: A Song of God’s Love (1 John 4:7-11)
Canticle O: A Song of the Heavenly City (Revelation 21:22-26; 22:1-4)
Canticle P: A Song of the Spirit (Revelation 22:12-17)
Canticle Q: A Song of Christ’s Goodness (from Anselm of Canterbury)
Canticle R: A Song of True Motherhood (from Julian of Norwich)
Canticle S: A Song of Our True Nature (from Julian of Norwich)

These canticles come from a variety of sources; most are scripturally based, but some are from the Apocryphal books and others from historic medieval theologians.

On Sunday, the Parish Choir will sing similar translation of A Song of Wisdom as the Choral Introit. This Wisdom text highlights King Solomon’s prayer for “an understanding mind to govern your people” (First Reading, 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14) and the psalmist David’s prayer for “the beginning of wisdom” and for “a good understanding” (Psalm 111). And the Second Reading from the letter to the Ephesians admonishes to “be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15-20).

This beautiful canticle is set to the hymn tune Brewer, which was composed by David Ashley White, composition professor at The University of Houston. Listen for the gentle rise and fall of the phrases of this tune, which climaxes on “uttered Wisdom’s mighty word” in the second stanza.

Wisdom freed a holy people, blameless from oppressors’ sword,
and withstood, with signs and wonders, rulers dread to serve the Lord.

Giving them reward of labors, led the saints along her way,

she was blaze of stars in darkness and a shelter through the day.

Through the Red Sea safely brought them, led along the waters steep,
but their enemies she swallowed, overwhelmed them in the deep.

For salvation, Lord, the righteous praised your name with one accord:

song-filled tongues of newborn people uttered Wisdom’s mighty word.

Trans. Patricia B. Clark (b. 1938)

An online PDF of Enriching Our Worship is available from Church Publishing Incorporated by clicking here.

Assistant ministers of music Dr. Jane Gamble and Dr. Ellen Koziel donned construction vests with yours truly for Rally Day 2018 on Aug. 12:

Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at 5:00 PM
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